What was believed to be a failure is now believed to be the world’s very first color motion film, though not through direct application. The film was shot in 1901/2 by Raymond Turner who died shortly after in 1903 and utilized wheel of blue green and red filter placed before actual black and white film to create colored viewing. Mr. Turner had had this process patented in 1899.
Using Mr. Turners application process viewing would have been rather confusing with the film changing from one color to the next over and over as the motion film is played. But with correct synchronization of the correct films and filters, along with the speed that the the film has to be played at, it creates the illusion of colored film. Hmm, guess you could also say he was an early illusionist as well!
The restoration of this motion picture was tedious to say the least and was carried out by film archive experts; David Cleveland and Brian Pritchard along with the curator of Cinematography at the National Media Museum, Michael Harvey. It had to be converted to digital film which was a two step process of first copying it to 35 mm film and then scanning those for hours upon end, all without knowing if it will be successful. Not without the help of the deceased Mr. Turner though, who had made sure to mark each film with the color filter it was supposed to be paired with. It was a beautiful success. A piece of history in color. The film could well be called ” A Bit of This and Bit of That 1901/2. Because that is just what it is. Although fascinatingly it does include Raymond’s children.
Shortly after making the film, Raymond Turner died of a sudden heart attack and his film was deemed a failure. His wife did not recieve any royalties of course since his film was thought to be nothing at the time. But on the bright side, Charles Urban, American film entrepreneur and supporter off Mr. Turner went ahead and developed the process with the help of filmmaker George Albert Smith resulting in Kinemacolor which did go commercial in 1906 a few years after Mr. Turner’s death. There you have it; a juicy piece of film history.
The film is currently being displayed at the National Media Museum, Bradford.